A recent article in a local paper reported that shops have noticed an uptick in business, which is certainly good news, considering that the past few years saw a lot of businesses in survival mode. For example, a wine shop owner related that from six dollar bottles of wine, regular customers were now purchasing 8-10 dollar bottles.
Tellingly, these business owners acknowledged that apart from big box retailers, online shops have taken business away from them. But rather than fight the trend, other business owners have embraced online marketing, and admit that a significant portion of their revenues (some say 70 percent) are now coming from online sales. For collision repair shops, online marketing may not seem so important, considering that the shop may be part of a direct repair program. Or the current manager is an old-time traditionalist who doesn’t see the benefit of marketing his or her collision repair shop over the Internet.
But as any business owner knows, even regular customers tend to disappear over time, and these obviously have to be replaced if the business is to have any hope of continuity. Sure, if you’re part of a direct repair program, you may have more jobs than you can handle. But how’s your profitability? And would you want to place all your marketing eggs and customer sources in one basket?
Marketing experts will tell you that significant effort is needed to acquire a new customer, and a business like a collision repair shop should embrace all avenues of marketing that can bring in new customers. An online presence doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, setting up a blog or a page in Facebook won’t cost anything at all if the shop already has a PC with an Internet connection. And a blog or a Facebook page may even be more effective than a business page with its own domain and webmaster. Being more personal in nature than a commercial-looking site, social network sites provide person-to-person interaction that allows visitors to the site to see more than the usual slick-looking productions. But this can be a double-edged sword if you are not careful, because shoddy work will be spread like wildfire, and all it takes is a couple of clicks to share negative comments. But if you are a collision repair shop that can be justifiably proud of your work, then you should embrace this form of marketing. Look at it as a supercharged way to spread word-of-mouth, with the benefit of adding pictures, videos and personal comments to the conversation.